Trying to get my toddler to eat vegetables every day is a really challenging. Considering I have been giving her green vegetables every day since she started eating, she still decided that green foods are yucky. I’m not sure how she got so picky, but I guess it’s normal for most toddlers. She also isn’t a fan of chewy her food, so if it’s not soft it comes back up. She also hates anything pureed, since she isn’t a baby anymore. Strangely pasta, rice, meat and biscuits seem to get chewed and never come back up. Despite this not eating vegetables in this house is non-negotiable. So I’m trying to normalising it as much as I can, so it doesn’t become an issue. I try not to hide the veggies, but rather serve them in a way she would prefer. Sometimes that means having something else on the table that she likes and can eat between bites. Other times we reward with stickers or shovel it down while she watches her favourite Disney song clips or TV show.
So this recipe was created to get my daughter to eat her most despised vegetables. Cauliflower and broccoli seem to be the most disliked. Green beans get choked on and leafy greens are picked out. Now when I prepare pasta or noodle dishes I try to steam the vegetables first and put them in at the last minute. That way they are soft enough but still retain their nutrients. The crunchy bread top is her reward between eating all her greeny mouthfuls. This is also a great recipe if you need to empty the fridge.
This is also a great recipe if you need to empty the fridge or just want to incorporate many vegetables into one dish. You can add or subtract depending on what you have or like to eat. If you like your cheese you can always add some grated pecorino, crumbled feta or your favourite vegan melting cheese before baking.
Veggie Pasta Bake with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce
(vegan, gluten free option, soy free, nut free)
1/2 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 cup unsweetened plant milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 cups short pasta (use gluten free if preferred)
1 small broccoli, chopped into florets
1 cup beans, chopped small
4-6 brussel sprouts, sliced (or a handful of sliced kale)
1 cup frozen peas
2-3 slices good quality bread (I used Wholemeal Sourdough with seeds), cubed
- Preheat your oven to 190 degrees.
- Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Then drain and rinse with cold water. Leave to the side for later.
- To make the sauce: First steam cauliflower. You can prepare this ahead of time so it’s ready to go. Place cauliflower, milk, garlic powder, nutritional yeast and sea salt in a high-speed blender. Blend until smooth and set to the side.
- Steam broccoli and beans until half cooked. If your kids don’t mind them a bit crunchy then skip this step.
- Place pasta, broccoli, beans, brussel sprouts and peas in a large casserole dish. Stir through Cauliflower sauce.
- Coat shallots and bread with olive oil and place on top of the pasta and vegetables.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.